By Aiga Tofilau
APIA: Thursday 31st May 2012: Three fautasis – long boats from the small islands of Manono and Apolima will be on a showdown with the unforgiving Segavao captained by the only woman skipper in the races.
Vaimasenu’u Sita Martel is no stranger to the skippers of Telefoni ole Vainu’u, Manulele Tautala and Tava’esina as they are old rivals on these races. All have been champions at some stage with Segavao having the better of her rivals in recent years.
Telefoni ole Vainu’u from Faleu Manono, Manulele Tautala from Apolima and Tava’esina from Salua Manono are all former champions with Telefoni leading their heat to qualify for the finals next Tuesday 5 June.
Segavao 2 and Segavao 3 qualified from the first heat well ahead of the only entry from Savai’i Island – Tolotolo o Tama Uli another champion captained by the experienced Pauli Ivan Williams.
The field has been narrowed down to eight longboats and the track has been modified to extend the distance to eight miles. The race now starts at the Fisheries wharf at Savalalo, then heads westwards towards the former starting point at Faleula, turn around and finishing off at the main wharf at Matautu-tai.
There is no entry from American Samoa even though they were invited and were to go straight into the finals.
Longboats races have been a highlight of independence celebrations in the last fifty years and this years a special one that all the captains would like to grab – hence the rivalry and spectacle that will unfold on the seas coming next Tuesday.